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Thursday, March 24, 2011
Playoff implications: Rangers vs. Senators

By Matt Ehalt

Tonight’s contest really only has meaning for the Rangers. The Senators might as well start getting the golfing shorts out as they are 18 points out of a playoff spot with just nine games to go. To do the math, they’re toast.

The Rangers, meanwhile, are in the seventh place in the East, three points below Montreal for sixth and three points ahead of Buffalo for eighth place. As of now, the Rangers magic number is 13, meaning if the Blue Shirts grab 13 of their final 16 points, they will clinch a playoff spot no matter what happens the rest of the way.

With tonight’s slate of games, it’s important for the Rangers to secure the two points. Here are the other games:

Montreal (6th, 87) @ Boston (3rd, 90)
Toronto (10th, 76) @ Colorado (WC)
Atlanta (11th, 72) @ New York Islanders (13th, 70)
Pittsburgh (4th, 92) @ Philadelphia (1st, 97)

With a win tonight, the Rangers will help themselves in the chase for the runner-up in the battle of Montreal vs. Boston for the Northeast Division.  Were Boston to win, the Rangers would be just one point behind the Canadiens with both teams having seven games to go. A Montreal win, and the Rangers are three behind Montreal and four behind Boston.

To summarize, this is a game the Rangers need not in the sense that it is a must win, but it is a great chance to pick up two important points before hitting the road for a four-game road swing. By the end of the night, the Blue Shirts could be one point out of sixth place.